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Richard III

By The Mercury

While the Pakistanis are trying to put distance between themselves and Osama bin Laden, the British are welcoming the discovery of the skeletal remains of King Richard III.

Like bin Laden, he died violently — in 1485 at the Battle of Bosworth Field during the War of the Roses. He was defeated by the army of Henry Tudor, who became King Henry VII and brought an end to the Plantagenet line.

Records indicated that Richard III had been buried by Franciscan monks of Grey Friars at their church in Leicester, about 20 miles from the battlefield. Sure enough, his bones were dug up under a parking lot in Leicester.

Thanks largely to William Shakespeare, Richard III is remembered as a deformed literary figure, and in part because history is written by the victors, he is remembered for his ugly, if short, reign as well as his physical deformity. Scoliosis was evident in the skeleton that mitochondrial DNA tests revealed to be those of Richard III.

He is not without defenders. The Richard III Society, which supported the search for his bones, will now try to boost his reputation. Only time will tell whether it can undo the negative publicity that more than 500 years and countless Shakespeare readings have done to this controversial monarch.

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